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Thursday, April 17, 2003

Review - The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions: Deluxe Edition

Artist: Howlin Wolf

Posted on Thu, Apr 17, 2003 at 4:00 AM

The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions: Deluxe Edition
Label: Chess/MCA/Chronicles
Media: CD
Format: Album
WorkNameSort: The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions: Deluxe Edition

"The Red Rooster" is track nine on disc one. Listen to it first, because it's the key to this re-issue. On it, Howlin' Wolf schools Eric Clapton on how to play the blues. As in, "No man, do it this way." Then Wolf picks up his Silvertone guitar and drags his massive, meaty hands across the instrument's neck. The result is as thick as a Mississippi summer night. Clapton never does get it, adding flourishes and substituting speed for soul, but "The London Sessions" is still a great lesson in idol worship. Wolf went to London in 1970 to cut a record with some heavy hitters like Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, Ringo Starr and Clapton. For the white kids it was a chance to work with a legend. For Wolf, it was frustrating because the session didn't gel. The resulting tracks (all Wolf's material) are heavy on the rock phrasing and slick, but they lack the guttural power of Wolf's earlier work with guitarist Willie Johnson. If you already own the original, unfortunately, the outtakes and bonus tracks on this edition aren't mandatory listening.

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